Alison Duncan

Assistant Professor; Medical Director, Psychiatric Emergency Service; Psychiatrist; Outpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Researcher

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Volunteer Basis, Potential for UROP Funding, Potential for Work-Study Funding, Potential for Academic Credit


Participate in Two Emergency Department Research Projects:

Students would help recruit for BOTH research projects listed below. Both studies will also include Spanish-speaking participants so Spanish fluency is preferred.

COVID-19 PES Survey
COVID-19 has spread around the world and significantly changed people’s lifestyles and socialization. This study focuses on the high needs population of patients who received psychiatric emergency services (PES) since the COVID-19 pandemic and examines the effect of the pandemic on patients’ mental health. This study also aims to compare the mental health and social determinants of health of PES patients who were infected with COVID-19 with PES patients who were not. We hope to make these correlations through a detailed survey of a randomized sample of PES patients since March 2020.
Students would be responsible for recruiting patients over the phone and in-person, consenting them, and administering surveys. They may also help with data analysis and writing a report on the results of this study. A minimum commitment of 10 hours/week is required, but dates and timing within the week is flexible.
Students must be comfortable talking to people on the phone and in-person, and working with patients with psychiatric illnesses. They must also have strong organizational skills, be self-motivated, have good interpersonal skills, and be capable of working independently. Previous clinical research or clinical experience would be preferred.

SIAT Study
For those at risk of harming themselves or taking their own lives, there are limited tools available to assess their level of risk and whether they need to be psychiatrically hospitalized. One reason for this is that risk assessment tools rely on self-report, and often people with suicidal ideas and plans may deny having these thoughts if they fear stigma or fear that they will be prevented from attempting suicide. Implicit Association Testing (IAT) is a computer-based test that has been studied to show the associations people hold, and the strength of these associations can relate to past or future behavior. Specifically, it has been shown that a form of the IAT-the Suicide Implicit Association Test (S-IAT) can measure people’s associations between the “self” and concepts relating to death/dying/suicide and that results of the S-IAT can be related to suicidal behavior. Another form of the IAT-the Self-Injury Implicit Association test (SI-IAT) can measure people’s associations between self and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI).
We plan to administer the S-IAT and SI-IAT to patients who present to the BMC ED who receive a consultation from psychiatric emergency services and then subsequently follow-up with these patients three months later to note their outcomes after leaving the BMC ED. The S-IAT and SI-IAT scores, survey results, and follow-up results can be analyzed to determine the feasibility of implementing the S-IAT and SI-IAT in the emergency department and see if these IATs can predict future suicidality and suicidal ideation. If so, it would provide further evidence of IAT’s usefulness as a tool for predicting suicide risk and could potentially help clinicians keep at-risk patients safe. In addition, testing the S-IAT and SI-IAT in the diverse population of the BMC ED, with additional questionnaires assessing social determinants of health (SDOH) and discrimination, can show the strength of the correlation between SDOH and suicidal behavior.
The student would primarily be responsible for in-person recruitment of patients, consenting patients, and administering the S-IAT, SI-IAT, and questionnaires involved in the baseline study visit. They would also be responsible for reaching out to patients over email and/or phone to administer follow-up surveys. Students may also help with data analysis and writing reports of this project. The emergency department is a 24-hour service, so student’s schedules can be flexible. The student must commit to a minimum of 10 hours/week for this project, but most, if not all, of that time would be spent working in person in BMC’s Emergency Department.
The student must be comfortable working in an emergency department, talking to people on the phone, and working with patients with psychiatric illnesses. They must also have strong organizational skills, be self-motivated, and capable of working independently. Good communication and interpersonal skills are also required to work with patients. An interest in novel interventions in psychiatry would be preferred.


Posted 12 months ago on

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